A reader contacted me regarding the posts on the SERE gear that we've posted in the last few days. He is an experienced operator and a SERE instructor. He mentioned several good points regarding the SERE kit that I thought it would be good for everyone to read.
Like him, I was trained to blend with the environment and use whatever it is available and rely more on my brain that in gear (as I mentioned several times before). All his points are really valid, especially on less than permissive environments where you will most likely need to use your E&E knowledge.
He gave me his permission to post this, however I am omitting his name, what he does and other details for OPSEC.
As far as the SERE kit stuff goes- there are a lot of unique items out on the market and I think you've identified most to include Hard Case's discreet flag and other options for hiding most gear. Like you I too was trained in using my surroundings and keeping things simple. It is this reason along with a couple of others on why I steer my students away from those types of kits.
First I believe in distribution of resources, in other words don't keep all your shit in one place. This is primarily due to Murphy and his spontaneous gifts of making my life miserable. Second, I like multipurpose items that look like normal everyday items, such as bobby pins, barrettes and safety pins. If you don't use these I'd advise you to use these at least as truly last resort items... such as your original kit got confiscated during a search which brings up my last point. Nobody wants to be captured but it can happen regardless of how well we are at evasion. You get knocked out while evading or something along those lines. Nonetheless, your captors go through an initial search on you and if they find E&E tools, it could easily escalate the situation to a point of getting you killed. They see ceramic razor blades, sharpened dog tags and the such and they now see you as a liability and not a commodity, which means they might execute you to avoid the trouble or they will restrain you even more.
Really valid points. Take them into account as we will when you get your kit ready. Not just the E&E but any other emergency kit.
Because of some of this, the kit that will be the base for the team will not have some of the more tradictional SERE kit items, like the ceramic razor.
While working a low visibility assignment, I typically wore business to business casual clothing. I used to keep safety pins attached to a "cleaners tag" on both my dress shirt and the inside of fly of my slacks. Both accessible and easily explained away if caught. I had other things I did for "E&E", more along Personnel Recovery that were multipurpose and I carried in a messanger bag. These items would assist me in survival and recovery, but also allowed me to go to meetings and through metal detectors and x-ray machines.
Layering the emergency kit is a good practice since you never know when Murphy or the bad guys can strike.
Keep these tips in mind.